May is the time of year year for the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey to hold its annual baby owl shower (http://fl.audubon.org/baby-owl-shower). The center was packed with visitors on Saturday, and a lot of supplies were donated, such that they were stacked everywhere around the entrance. It’s good to see this kind of positive response, and I hope it keeps up; feeding and caring for the raptors is an important ongoing task. The Center holds far more than just the owls, but today was their special day, especially the juvenile barred owl who was molting and loosing its “baby” feathers. The idea of bringing out real owl chicks is a bit concerning; the juvenile is almost as big as an adult (my untrained eyes couldn’t see a real difference except in the feathers) and was big enough to handle lots of folks standing around her.
Many of the raptors seem to have suffered eye injuries, specifically their left eye. I’ve heard stories that kids, middle school to college, like to shoot at the big raptors for the sadistic fun of it. Although the raptors look fierce, there’s absolutely no cause to harm the animals, especially the owls. It’s a real shame someone doesn’t go around and sadistically shoot out those “kid’s” left eye just to show them what it’s like…
According to Wikipedia, the barred owl “is a very opportunistic predator. The principal prey of this owl are meadow voles, followed by mice and shrews of various species. Other mammals preyed upon include rats, squirrels, rabbits, bats, moles, opossums, mink, and weasels. A Barred Owl was photographed in Minnesota in 2012 predaceously grabbing and flying with a full-grown domestic cat, a semi-regular prey item for the Great Horned Owl but previously unknown to be taken by this species.”
Yes, I have three cats, and love them, and look after them. But I’m a responsible cat owner, keeping them indoors and spaying them when they were kittens. I’ve seen too many feral cats in and around where I live and work, and I’ve heard the occasional owl call (along with hawks hunting for the rats still living and breeding in abandoned orange grove remnants). It’s a cruel thing to say, but we’ve so taken over raptor habitat and allowed our pets to breed indiscriminately. Between our abundant garbage and our abundantly breeding pets, we’ve provided substitutes for may formerly wild creatures such as the raptors. What did you expect nature to do but adapt?